Last week my husband got a craving for scones. Instead of turning to me, or making them himself, he asked our 12-year-old son to bake them. He challenged Charlie to have hot scones ready by the time he left for work the next morning. 7:30am is an hour my boys rarely see, because they are deep in REM sleep. Agreeing to this request was based on one thing, and one thing alone, money. My sons get an allowance, but it isn’t always enough to satisfy all the activities and toys they want, so the thought of a few extra bucks in his pocket was enough to get him out of bed. And, he loves to bake, so it wasn’t much of a hardship. The night before, he picked a recipe from Baking with Julia, set up his mise en place (a fancy way to say ingredients and equipment), then set his alarm for 5:30am. He woke me up at 6am, so I could sit in the kitchen, bleary eyed, with my coffee and answer any questions he had. It was quite something to watch him navigate the recipe. He didn’t know what a pastry blender was or what cornmeal looked like, so the instructions of “cutting the butter into the flour with a pastry blender until is resembles cornmeal” meant nothing to him. I showed him a jar of cornmeal, handed him the pastry tool and off he went. Scones are really quite easy to make, but it does require a gentle touch, so they don’t come out too tough. He did it perfectly.
My husband is a big fan of raisins, so Charlie folded them in during the last steps and added a bit of zest to the dough as well. He made an entire batch, which was way more than my husband could eat, so Charlie got the idea of texting our family members, who live near by, to tell them he had hot scones coming out of the oven and he was selling them. The price is fair, the product is amazing, the baker is adorable and he sold out for the day. By the time the scones were cooling on the racks and his costumers were showing up at the back door, he had crawled into my bed and fallen back to sleep. I was left to run the store, which was just fine with me. The scones were such a success that he’s now taking pre-orders for all kinds of baked goods and has a schedule of when he has to deliver the goods. It’s the best summer job I can think of and he’s going to be a skilled baker by the time he hits the 8th grade. Could I be any prouder of him, nope, not possible! He’s my fabulous baker boy.
by Marion Cunningham from Baking with Julia and baked by Charlie (12)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk, maybe a little more
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup raisins or dried currants or whatever you want, dried cherries would be good.
1/2 stick butter, melted, for brushing the tops
1/4 cup sugar for sprinkling over the top
To make the scones:
Preheat the oven to 425°F
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add the butter and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender, until it resembles cornmeal. Above is a pastry blender and cornmeal. You actually want some of the flour to resemble cornmeal, once it is cut with the butter, but you also want to keep some of the butter in pea sized pieces, which will create the flakiness in your scones.
Add one cup of buttermilk and zest, gently stir it with a spoon, just to moisten the flour. It is ok if some of the flour is still powdery, but if it seems like there are big bunches of dry ingredients still in the bowl, add another tablespoon of buttermilk. Add the raisins, but don’t stir them in, they will get incorporated when you do the “kneading.”
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to do the gentle kneading. You are really just turning the dough over on itself, using a bench scraper is very handy to get this done without over working the dough. Turn the dough 12 times, as Charlie is doing in the above pictures.
Divide the dough in half.
As an experiment Charlie rolled one piece of the dough into a log that was about 1 1/2-inches wide.
Then he cut the dough at an angle with the bench knife.
to get his triangular scones.
With the other piece of dough he rolled it into a 1/2-inch thick disc,
and cut it into wedges using a pizza cutter. Brush the top of the scones with the melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Place the scones on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the scones for about 12 minutes or until golden and set. Cool and eat, or sell, warm.